League of Legends Champions Korea (LCK), arguably the most prestigious esports league in the world, broke several of its viewership records on Saturday as T1 Entertainment & Sports became the first team in the league to complete an undefeated season.
The finals match drew a peak viewership of 1.37 million according to Esports Charts, surpassing last year’s Summer finals peak of 1.32 million. This is particularly noteworthy because Spring season viewership is historically lower than Summer, as Summer includes qualifying for the World Championship. The increased stakes in Summer usually lead to increased viewership. However, T1’s pursuit of an undefeated season also increased viewership outside of the playoffs. Spring 2022 averaged 247,000 viewers, up from 205,000 in Summer 2021.
T1 had already established itself as the most successful League of Legends dynasty for international competition. The organization holds a record three world championships and is the only team to ever win in back-to-back years (2015-2016). Now with the only undefeated season under its belt, T1 has made a strong case for its position as a regional dynasty as well.
Off the back of its historical success, T1 was already a leader in the LCK for sponsor engagement, having previously signed deals with Nike, BMW, Twitch, Red Bull, Samsung, Chinese streaming platform Douyu, gaming chair brand Secretlab, and computer peripherals brand SteelSeries.
League of Legends, now in its 12th year of esports competition, continues to showcase the potential longevity of esports. Where historically the video game industry saw too much turnover in title popularity to establish generational esports fans, Riot Games has shown that video games with a robust esports ecosystem and a frequently updated free-to-play business model can continue to see growth well past the standard product cycle.